On Racism: Dialogue with Derek Sloan / 关于种族主义:与德里克·斯隆的对话

On Racism: Dialogue with Derek Sloan

By Yang Wang

May 12, 2020

Like many other Chinese Canadian volunteers who have tried to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, I have witnessed the ups and downs of the battle against the virus since the end of January. {1} The early intervention by the Chinese community through the implementation of self-quarantine among travellers from China has a very positive outcome.  Provincial data has shown that Canada’s early cases came mostly from travellers from the US and other hot spots like European countries, while very few were from China. {2} However, as the pandemic continues, its devastating impact has pushed people’s fears and frustrations to a new high.  Some people let out their angers onto Chinese and other Asians.  A poll shows 20% Canadians feel unsafe if sitting next to an Asian on the bus, and there has been a notable rise of racism and hate crimes against Asians across the world, including Canada. {3} It casts a shadow on my sense of security and the outlook of the future.  My big boy, who is in Grade 12 and drives now, volunteers to deliver groceries for my friends who have underline diseases, and send protective caps sewn by other volunteers to nurses.  As a mom I’m so proud of him, but I hesitate to let him go to areas like downtown Toronto, where a couple of assaults on Chinese were on the news in April alone. {4} My kids have developed a firm belief in Canadian values of tolerance and diversity.  My heart aches when I think of the very likelihood that one day when they experience discrimination, how that will break their hearts, and shatter the beloved image on their young minds of this place we call our home now.

That was why I felt an urge to dialogue with Derek Sloan, MP and Conservative Party leader contender, when he held a public meeting with the Chinese community on April 25.  A few days before he requested Canada’s federal Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam to step down or be fired, and asked whether the Hong Kong-born officer ” work for Canada or for China?” He was under criticism of racism by many, including PM Justine Trudeau and some of his own party members. {5}

Below is a record of our dialogues in instant text/voice message via online media apps, GoToWebinar and WeChat, as well as email.  The answers from Mr. Sloan are the transcripts compiled from his voice messages.

Questions from me:

Mr. Sloan, do you see the danger of discrimination against the Chinese community in the wake of COVID-19?  What do you think you can do to deal with that?  Thanks.

Do you know that Chinese communities across Canada have done a great deal since the end of January trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country, promoting self-quarantine for travellers coming back, helping with grocery deliveries, and finding PPE’s for our doctors and nurses?

While Canada performs relatively well among European and American countries, you are accusing of Dr. Theresa Tam’s loyalty to the country.  This accusation is not fair at all, and it imposes danger of further discrimination against Asians in this country.  Have you ever thought of the danger you may have caused?

Answers from Mr. Sloan:

Thank you for your questions and I did answer the racism question on the Webinar tonight, but I’d be happy to address it again. So just so you know, I did not question Dr Tam’s loyalty to Canada.  I just questioned some of the decisions that she made.  You can take a look at my video I put out and my letter I put out, there is nothing racial in it. I don’t think that Doctor Tam is being disloyal to Canada or anything like that.  I just explained that she made the wrong decisions so that’s basically the crux of that issue.

When it comes to targeting Chinese Canadians, yes I think it’s wrong and I think that right now people are frustrated and letting out their anger in different types of ways. But the way we deal with that in English we say Go–. so the best thing to do here is to make sure that people know where the false information is coming from, the World Health Organization of course is giving us the wrong advice and we need to be clear about that.  I think when we are clear on that Canadians will know who to blame, it is not Chinese Canadians, it’s these organizations that were giving us the wrong information.

Yes and thank you for raising the issue about Chinese contributions to helping people self-quarantine and social distance. I did mention that in the webinar, but I’m glad to mention it again.  I am very thankful for Chinese Canadians they’ve made great contributions to Canadian society.  They were some of the first people who raised alarm bells when it came to COVID-19. So thank you for doing that, and thank you for bringing that to my attention.

Another question we had there is about how to deal with the racism and I did talk about that in the webinar, but I’ll just talk about it a little bit now.  So yeah, we have to be very firm against real racist incidents which have been happening, but we also have to stop talking about fake racist incidents. And you know Justin Trudeau has been involved with a variety of racist incidents. He’s put on black face. He downplayed the Marissa Shen murder. He was talking about this hijab hoax which supposedly an Asian person that did it.  So Justin Trudeau is talking about all these fake racist incidents when he needs to be talking about real ones. And when you’re talking about fake things all the time, that’s what promotes this sort of racist attitude. We need to be giving people the answers of where the false information has been coming from and that will do a lot to prevent the racism that’s going on.

Anybody can look at my email that I sent out and see that the statement there “does she work for China or Canada?” that was a rhetorical question, it was not a statement. It doesn’t have anything to do with her loyalty, it has to do with the source of information that she was using and whether she looked at other information that was available at the same time. So, I’m not criticizing Dr. Tam’s loyalty, I’m just criticizing the advice that she gave Canada. And that is the main issue here that I’m concerned about.

I just want to thank you so much for coming on to the webinar tonight. I’m really excited to be able to reach out to Chinese Canadians. You all have made Canada a better place. You worked really hard when the coronavirus was first coming into Canada to help people to self-isolate. You were raising the alarm bells about the seriousness of the situation and I wish that our government had listened to you. I am looking forward to speaking to you again. It looks like it might be this coming Saturday. Please stay tuned for more information. Talk to you soon.  Good-bye Everyone.  Zai Jian!

Responses from me to Mr. Sloan:

Thank you for answering my questions.  And thank you for recognizing Chinese Canadians’ contribution in the battle against COVID-19.  I appreciate your effort of coming over to communicate with us.  When you asked whether Dr. Tam worked for Canada or for China, you were questioning her loyalty, or at least it left the impression on people’s mind.  If you did not mean it, you should apologize for this particular statement to Dr. Tam.

It is a question that implies Dr. Tam may be working for China. It hurts. She might have made some mistakes, but she has been working very hard to protect Canadians to her knowledge. It worries me. We work hard for Canada, and one day if we make a mistake, we would be questioned on our loyalty to the country. Add a time when discrimination against Chinese community is lurking, we especially need politicians try all means and use all rhetorical words to protect us. I have no problem with your questioning whether Dr. Tan’s decisions are good or bad. What I am perplexed with is this particular question.

To single out Dr. Tam does not solve the real problem.  We need to revisit our whole system, which includes chief health officers at federal, provincial and regional level, government officials, and management teams at hospitals and long-term facilities. What can we do to improve the system, and encourage them to listen to the voice of local communities and frontline doctors and nurses, plus to use their own judgement calls to respond more quickly to new challenges?  This is a question for all countries globally.  To ask whether Dr. tam works for Canada or for China does not give the answer.  Instead, it has aroused rumors of her being a spy on social media.  It brings risks to our community and to our kids.  I kindly urge you to come along with us, and see the extra difficulty the Asian community is experiencing, in addition to other worries facing all Canadians in the COVID-19 crisis.  You then would probably choose a different approach to execute your power, and help Canada progress to a healthier future for everyone.


While I do not think there is fake racism in this case, and I do not like the way politicians take every opportunity to attack their opponents, I do appreciate Mr. Sloan making the effort to communicate with us.  I wish dialogues like this could continue so people would get to know and understand each other better.  I also wish Mr. Sloan, actually each and every elected official, turn out to be a Politician with integrity, kindness, wisdom, and take real and effective actions to tackle racism, among other big issues facing  the country.


{1} On Preventing Coronavirus Outbreak in Canada, an article I wrote about the volunteer work Chinese communities had been doing and some of the challenges back in February 2020:


Love Knows No Boundary, an article written by a volunteer group in Ottawa, summarizing some of the contributions reported by Canada’s mainstream media of the Chinese communities fighting COVID-19 across Canada:


{2} Canada’s early COVID-19 cases came from the U.S. not China, provincial data shows, Ryan Tumilty, The National Post, April 30, 2020:


{3} One in 5 Canadians think it’s not safe to sit beside an Asian person on the bus, according to recent poll,  Wanyee Li, The Star, April 27, 2020:


{4} ‘It happened because I’m Asian’: Toronto ER nurse says she was spit on, verbally assaulted, Phil Tsekouras, CTV, April 9, 2020:


ER doctor worries about COVID-19 racism, CBC, April 24, 2020:


{5} County officials in Sloan’s riding call on Scheer to take action over ‘cruel, racist’ comments, Sarah Turnbull, CTV, April 23, 2020: https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/county-officials-in-sloan-s-riding-call-on-scheer-to-take-action-over-cruel-racist-comments-1.4908902?cache=nkwcgcjqfzosqu%3FclipId%3D89530

Derek Sloan ignores calls to apologize for attack on Canada’s top doctor, Peter Zimonjic, Catherine Cullen, CBC, April 29, 2020:















非常感谢你今晚来参加我的视频见面会。我很激动能和加拿大的华裔进行接触。你们让加拿大成为了一个更好的地方。新冠病毒刚传到加拿大的时候,你们努力帮助人们进行自我隔离。你们预警了事态的严重性,我但愿我们的政府听取了你们的声音。期待与你继续交谈。有可能就在下周六,请注意查看有关讯息。回聊。各位再见。Zai Jian!










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